Lord Loss: The Demonata, Book 1
Grubbs Grady knows how to get into trouble. It seems that most of his life is spent in yelling fights with his parents or getting revenge on his sister Gret for whatever. It's not that his mom and dad are all that bad, but they're just parents: misguided and very bossy. It's not that his sister is that bad, but wait --- she is, and she certainly deserved those rat guts smeared in her hair.
At least Grubbs is a pretty fair chess player and holds his own (most of the time) against his family. So what's the big deal anyway? Just typical adolescent stuff when you get right down to it, but Grubbs soon falls into a most horrific world when he witnesses something so ghastly that it almost destroys him. It does destroy his family.
Blood everywhere. Nightmarish splashes and gory pools. Wild streaks across the floor and walls.
...The dripping sound --- a body hanging upside down from the webby ceiling in the center of the room. No head. Blood drops to the floor from the gaping red O of the neck. Even without the head, I recognize him.
"DAD!" I scream....
None of this seems possible. None of this IS possible because even Grubbs, in his somewhat lucid moments, cannot get anyone to believe what he has seen. He lives with his nightmares and a world of doctors and nurses who have given up on him. Then one day someone comes to him and knows that he is telling the truth. His Uncle Dervish takes him from the hospital and into a world he promises will be safe from the demons that killed his family. But there are rules, there is magic, and there are so many unanswered questions. Can he possibly trust what this strange relative tells him? Can Grubbs ever trust again?
Over time Uncle Dervish, with great patience, tries to explain many things. Grubbs is also able to become friends with a strange young man known as Bill-E. He and Bill-E are close in age and seem to find many common bonds --- he accepts the demon story and Grubbs feels he has found a confidant. But in unexpected ways, Bill-E introduces more complications into his life. As Grubbs continues to fight for his sanity, he begins to realize that someday, somewhere, he must face this horrible demon known as Lord Loss and the minions that are responsible for his family's destruction.
But how will he deal with the mysteries that seem to surround his uncle and even Bill-E? Is it possible that Bill-E is telling him the truth about Uncle Dervish and that Bill-E actually might be his cousin? Much sooner than he is ready, Grubbs is again fighting dark forces --- forces that not only threaten him, but also his uncle and Bill-E.
Darren Shan, author of the Cirque du Freak novels, again brings his skill as a storyteller into full swing with this newest book, the first in a series. The characters are well-realized and the development of Grubbs is especially good. This is not a book for the faint of heart --- it could easily keep you awake at night because you want to find out what's going on in this strange family. But again, it might simply keep you up because those demons are likely to scare anyone.
Readers who enjoy supernatural stories spilling with splashes of gore eagerly will be awaiting Book Two in the Demonata series.
Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on October 18, 2011